I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve, and we still don’t have a reprieve on the challenging situations 2020 has brought to us. I’ve been silent this year because every time I sat down to write, my thoughts would just get jumbled as they tried to make their way through all the emotions that have been so overwhelming. Hopefully, the fog is beginning to clear.
Christmas time should be a time when we can all come together with family and friends to celebrate the fact that God, Himself, came to this earth to be born to die for me and you. What a great mystery of love and redemption! But this year is different in our world. This year, our world looks different. We have lost so many loved ones and seen so many lives ruined by illness, politics, finances, relationships and a host of other factors. It seems like everywhere we turn, there is nothing but tragedy and people are weary. I am weary. Traditions this year have been shattered for months. Holidays and special family times have not only shifted or been eliminated, but anxiety and anger have permeated our lives as a result. For me, there have been times when I have felt like I have lost my voice and just want to give up. I know many of you have felt the same.
So here we are at Christmastime, fighting to keep our heads up when our spirits are exhausted. How do we find the strength to celebrate when our hearts are broken? How do we find joy when there is grief all around for the loss of what our lives used to be? We need to step back and look at all the good that has come in this year.
We have a tendency to keep our eyes staring at all the things that go wrong in life. It’s hard NOT to do that because it is around us every day. Sure, 2020 has seemed to have much more of it than we are used to, but only because we live in a nation that is used to being prosperous and healthy. I sponsor four children in poverty-stricken nations and although there have been some minor changes with Covid19, life is still mostly the same as it was before this pandemic began. There are people in countries all over this world who deal with poverty, disease, and grief as part of their daily lives. It has always been somewhat foreign to me, until this year. Quite frankly, the tragedies of 2020 have opened my eyes to more than I could have imagined. We truly seem to spend more time focusing on what is going wrong in our lives instead of what has gone right. It is just easier to frown than smile. It is easier to give up than fight. It’s just so easy to fall into an all or nothing mindset, but then we lose all sense of balance.
There is so much good in this world! There are so many gifts in our lives that we take for granted. Although we have been prevented from spending time with our family, friends, or loved ones, we have other means through which we can connect. Technology can be such a negative force in our lives, but in this case, I am so grateful to be able to call, face-time, zoom, facebook, Instagram, or whatever other channel exists to not only talk with those I love, but to see them. If you got out of bed this morning, it is a gift. If you took a breath, it is a gift! If you walked outside to get your mail, it’s a gift. This video started circulating a few years back and it really emphasizes what I’m saying. If we viewed the things in our lives as the gifts they are, our attitude would be so different.
Life may be interrupted this year, but there is still so much to celebrate. In the midst of these troubling times, our traditions may be disjointed. Maybe you lost a loved one this year and are dealing with a grief you can’t even wrap your head around. Maybe, you haven’t been able to hold your grandkids. Maybe you have an elderly parent living in a home that has locked it’s doors and not let you inside to care for them. Maybe it’s the birthday parades, the window visits, the isolation, or whatever else is dragging you down. Whatever is interrupting your “normal” life, take heart; You are not alone, no matter how it feels in any given moment.
Christmas is STILL here! The reason we celebrate has not changed! The God who spoke the world into order, humbled Himself to become a man so that He could die for you and me! He gave us the greatest gift, not only in His sacrifice, but in His example of love and forgiveness. He made a way for us to be with Him, and He is still making a way every day for us to see Him if we just open our eyes and look past our circumstances. We celebrate because He brought us not only life, but hope, joy and LOVE. The spirit of Christmas isn’t found in a store somewhere. Heck, even the Grinch learned that truth! Christmas truly is in our hearts and we celebrate by sharing our hearts with each other. It doesn’t take money to show kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love. It doesn’t take even being in the same location to show those things. We are free from circumstances when we realize what makes us truly connected has nothing to do with our geographical location, but in the nearness of our hearts and spirits.
So as we head into this most beautiful time, let us focus on what we have and not what we’ve lost. Let us focus on what truly matters in life. Let us remember that the true traits of Christmas aren’t reserved for those we love, but for all mankind, just as that original gift of Jesus’ birth so long ago was for the world, so are the gifts of everything He represents. Step back and breathe some deep breaths. Even if you are completely by yourself in this moment, you are still not alone. Even if you are surrounded by loved ones but wrapped within your own private griefs, you are not alone. You are known by God Himself and held within the arms of the one who loved you so much that He stretched out those arms on a cross to show you just how wide His love is.
There is always good. If you can’t find it this season or this year, then BE it.
Blessings to you all, and Merry Christmas!